PhD in Nursing

Design, conduct, and disseminate research that will generate new knowledge. Your work can help change nursing science, healthcare, and nursing practice.

You will join a small cohort of nurse scholars, developing supportive relationships with these fellow students and faculty. Faculty and staff are accessible and committed to your success, and you will have regular research and academic mentoring through the establishment of your career as a nurse scientist. Approximately two-thirds of our students are funded through research/teaching assistantship, scholarships, or Nurse Corps Loan Repayment Program awards.

Admission Requirements

Application Deadlines

Master’s to PhD – Summer Start

Application Opens: August 1
Deadline: March 15

Baccalaureate to PhD – Fall Start

Application Opens: August 1
Deadline: March 15

*If there is capacity to admit additional qualified students, we will extend the application deadline.

Education

  • A master’s degree from an accredited program (a baccalaureate degree from a nationally accredited program if you are interested in the bacc-PhD program)
  • A minimum GPA of 3.5 or higher in the master’s program (for PhD) and bachelor’s program (for Bacc-PhD). If you have mitigating circumstances that have affected your GPA, please contact us to discuss
  • Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) for applicants from countries where English is not the primary language
  • Official transcripts from all previous college work

Practice/Professional

  • Proof of registered nurse (RN) licensure
    NOTE: We will make special accommodations for international students
  • Curriculum vitae or résumé

Scholarly Work and Research Goal Statement

  • 3 letters of reference
  • Successful completion of an admissions phone interview

Before you apply, update/gather all necessary application materials and documents

  • You’ll need an updated professional curriculum vitae or resume.
  • Determine three references willing to provide a letter of recommendation for you that discusses your leadership, academic standards, and skills as they pertain to your primary interest area. You will need to provide names, addresses, emails, and positions of your references on your application. We recommend (but do not require) your references include a current or past faculty member in a nursing program you attended and two professionals from a work setting (head nurse, provider, NP/PA etc.). They will be contacted directly by WSU via email after you have submitted your application. Each reference will receive instructions for submitting their recommendation through an evaluation form. Ask them to fill out the form and submit it within one week of receiving it.
  • Prepare a “Program Intent and Goals Statement” that you will submit on the CollegeNet Application Statement of Purpose page. This statement is the most important part of your application. All questions must be addressed in your statement, or your application will be returned.
    • Your statement should include:
      • Why you want a PhD and how you envision it will advance your professional development and career.
      • A description of your potential research idea for your dissertation. What gap in knowledge do you want to investigate? Provide at least five references using APA 6th format to support the gap you have identified.
      • Potential faculty in the College of Nursing you believe will be a good mentor for your dissertation topic. Why is each person a good fit for your topic? Refer to the faculty list on the website.
      • Two to four specific goals for your PhD program that are organized, clear, concise, and in-depth with demonstrated lucidity and well-developed thinking. Goals may include rationale for progression through the program, courses from other disciplines in which you would want to enroll, writing a grant to fund your PhD study, interest in a Teaching Assistant position (identify your skill sets and topic areas of expertise) and working with faculty to develop presentations and publications.
  • Choose one option for scholarly work submission:
    • Option 1: Conduct a literature search on your proposed topic for the dissertation research. Write a review of at least five articles. At the end of the review, summarize the gaps in knowledge followed by a description of how your proposed dissertation research will address at least one gap. Provide a rationale for the importance of your topic for nursing practice, research, education, or policy. References/citations are required both in the body of the paper and in a reference list at the end using APA 6th edition. The scholarly work should be no longer than 5 double-spaced pages. Quality is valued over quantity.
    • Option 2: Submit a published paper (preferably a research report) for which you are the first author.
    • Option 3: Submit a literature-based paper written in your master’s or baccalaureate program for which you were the first author.
    • Option 4: Bacc-PhD applicants only – If you do not have experience in scientific writing and cannot provide a sample from one of the above options, you may take the Scientific Writing Course from Coursera. There is a $79 fee for the certificate of completion. The course is 6 weeks long and you must provide the completion certificate to the PhD Academic Coordinator prior to the first day of class.

Apply to the WSU Graduate School online

After you prepare/gather your required application materials and list of references, you are ready to apply. The application fee is $75 and non-refundable.

  • Create your online CollegeNET applicant profile.
  • When you get to the “Enrollment Plans” page, type “nursing” into the search box.
  • Select your PROGRAM based on the CAMPUS NAME (select one) you are applying to.
  • Select the Term you are applying for.
  • Submit your updated professional curriculum vitae or résumé.
  • Submit your statement of purpose.
  • Submit your scholarly work selection.
  • Provide information about your three references who will submit letters of recommendation for you.  Make sure you read the “before you apply” section above so you are clear on what your references need to do.
  • Submit your application.
  • You will receive an email from the College of Nursing Graduate Programs Office acknowledging application submission and what other application materials are outstanding.

Submit Your Transcripts

Transcripts are required for the application review process. A copy of unofficial transcripts from every college and university that you attended is acceptable for the application review process; official transcripts are required if admitted.

Interview

PhD Applicants may be asked to participate in an interview via phone or Zoom.

Application Review Process

  • You will be notified via email by the College of Nursing Graduate Programs Office that your application was received and if there are any additional documents needed.
  • We begin reviewing completed applications upon submission.
  • You will be notified via email if you are accepted, wait-listed, or denied.
  • Admission questions? Email nursing.grad.apps@wsu.edu or phone 509-324-7334.

What does it cost to attend the program?

Visit the WSU Student Financial Services website for information on tuition and expenses.

Scholarships & Loan programs

College of Nursing Scholarships

Financial Aid

Nurse Faculty Loan Program

Western Regional Graduate Program

WSU Scholarships

What should I include in my goal statement?

Your goal statement should include your long- and short-term professional goals and discuss how they fit with the faculty expertise at the College of Nursing. Keep the statement to 500 words and ensure it is focused and concise.

What is the selection process and how soon will I know if I am accepted?

Our PhD Advisory Committee reviews and scores all applications. Applicants receiving an acceptable score are invited for a phone interview with 2 members of the committee. Those members will make a recommendation back to the full committee for a vote. If approved, the applicant will be recommended to the graduate school for acceptance. You will receive an email from the College of Nursing notifying you of the admission decision.

What should I include in my scholarly work submission?

Your writing sample should exemplify your research and writing ability. Examples could include published and unpublished work. Unpublished work examples could include work-related papers or reports, your master’s thesis or project, or a scholarly work from a graduate course. Published works include journal articles or book chapters. If your work is written with multiple authors, a writing sample for which you carried the primary responsibility should be selected, and you should credit all authors and indicate, with an attached memo, your role in the authorship.

Are Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores required for graduate nursing programs?

No, the GRE is not required.

Are reference letters required?

Yes. When you apply online, you must provide 3 references. Once you submit your application, your 3 references will be contacted to submit a recommendation form electronically. We recommend you include the following references:

  • A faculty member from a nursing program you attended
  • A professional reference from a work setting
  • A reference of your choosing

You do not need to provide a paper recommendation. Please contact references prior to applying to ensure they are willing to respond to your recommendation request; ask them to discuss your leadership, academic standards, and skills as they pertain to your primary interest area.

Where do I have my transcripts sent?

Have your transcripts sent directly from your previous institutions to the WSU Graduate School.

Washington State University Graduate School
PO Box 641030
Pullman, WA 99164-1030

Electronic Transcripts
The Graduate School accepts electronic transcripts from U.S. institutions via the official electronic transcript process of the registrar’s office of the institution. In such cases, applicants should provide the registrar with the following email address for corresponding with the Graduate School regarding electronic transcripts: grad.sch.transcript@wsu.edu.

International Transcripts
If you attended a college outside the U.S. or Canada, please see the Graduate School site for more information.

How can I reach the Graduate School if I have questions?

gradschool@wsu.edu
509-335-1446

Program Requirements

Course work focuses on core areas of nursing science, research, education, and methodology. All course work contributes to the development and completion of dissertation work. A flexible, individualized program is available. If you are a Nurse Faculty Loan Program recipient, the nursing education certificate will be required.

Summer 1

CourseTitleCredits
NURS 524Foundations of Methodological Applications for Health Sciences2
NURS 535Philosophy of Nursing Science3
NURS 536Theory and Science of Nursing I3
Total8

Fall 1

CourseTitleCredits
NURS 526Analytical Foundations for Health Sciences3
NURS 588Research Inquiry: Quantitative Methods3
NURS 596Theory and Science of Nursing II3
NURS 800Dissertation2 (or more)
Minimum Total11

Spring 1

CourseTitleCredits
NURS 527Association, Group Difference, and Regression for Health Sciences (A)3
NURS 587Inquiry: Qualitative Methods3
ElectiveElective (chair/advisor must be consulted)3
NURS 800Dissertation2 (or more)
Minimum Total11

Summer 2

CourseTitleCredits
NURS 589Psychometrics in Health Care Research2
ElectiveElective (chair/advisor must be consulted) choose from the following:
– NURS 591 Mixed Methods for Program Development, Implementation, and Evaluation (3 cr)
– NURS 598 Independent Study (graded) (1-3 cr)
– NURS 599* Independent Study (non-graded) (1-3 cr)
– NURS 799* Dissertation Seminar (1 cr)
3
or
6
Minimum Total8

Fall 2

CourseTitleCredits
NURS 528Multivariate Statistical Techniques for Health Sciences3
ElectiveElective (chair/advisor must be consulted) choose from the following:
– NURS 592 Research Inquiry: Qualitative Methods II (2 cr)
– NURS 565 Information Mgmt for Clinical Practice (3 cr)
– NURS 521 Learning, Teaching, and Evaluating in Nursing (3 cr)
– NURS 598 Independent Study (graded) (1-3 cr)
– NURS 599* Independent Study (non-graded) (1-3 cr)
– NURS 799* Dissertation Seminar (1 cr)
3
or
6
NURS 800Dissertation2 (or more)
Minimum Total11

Spring 2

CourseTitleCredits
NURS 585Faculty Role Seminar/Practicum (taught even years only)0
or
3
NURS 534Seminar: Grant Development and Critique3
ElectiveElective (chair/advisor must be consulted) choose from the following:
– NURS 593* Preliminary Exam Seminar (1 cr)
– NURS 523 Educational Issues and Curriculum Analysis (3 cr)
– NURS 584 Healthcare Law, Policy, and Analysis (3 cr)
– NURS 529 Analytical Seminar for Health Sciences (3 cr)
3
or
6
NURS 800Dissertation4
Minimum Total10

Summer 3

CourseTitleCredits
NURS 800Dissertation (optional)0
or
2
Minimum Total0

Fall 3

CourseTitleCredits
NURS 800Dissertation4
Minimum Total4

Spring 3

CourseTitleCredits
NURS 585Faculty Role Seminar/Practicum (taught even years only)0
or
3
NURS 800Dissertation4
ElectiveElective (chair/advisor must be consulted) (optional)0
or
3
Minimum Total4

* These are S/F (non-graded) elective courses and are not counted towards the required credit total of 72 credits.

Course work focuses on core areas of nursing science, research, education, and methodology. All course work contributes to the development and completion of dissertation work. A flexible, individualized program is available. If you are a Nurse Faculty Loan Program recipient, the nursing education certificate will be required.

Fall 1

CourseTitleCredits
NURS 503Scientific Inquiry in Nursing (R)2
NURS 504Evidenced-Based Practice3
NURS 564
or
NURS 565
Health Promotion in Nursing Practice
or
Information Management for Clinical Practice (A)
2
or
3
Total12

Spring 1

CourseTitleCredits
NURS 554Epidemiology and Biostatistics for Health Professionals (N)3
NURS 584Healthcare Law, Policy, and Analysis3
NURS 523
or
Elective
Educational Issues and Curriculum Analysis
or
Elective (chair/advisor must be consulted)
3
Total9

Bacc-PhD Students must also have at least 14 credits of master’s-level coursework completed.

  1. Advances nursing science through clinical research and dissemination of dissertation study and other research projects
  2. Demonstrates ability to analyze, construct, or test theoretical frameworks that guide nursing research design, methodology, data analysis, and the transfer of new knowledge into practice
  3. Collaborates with interdisciplinary scholars in research and transfers evidence-based knowledge into best clinical practices through dissemination processes
  4. Synthesizes knowledge from a variety of disciplines to create research designs and methods for nursing science and to address ethical, social, cultural, political, and professional issues
  5. Implements proven and emerging technologies to enhance nursing research and education
  6. Implements innovative research designs, methodologies, leadership skills, health education, and/or lifestyle modifications techniques to address the healthcare needs of vulnerable populations and disparities in the access to or delivery of healthcare

FAQs

What is the difference between a PhD and DNP Degree?

The DNP degree is a practice-oriented doctoral-level degree that prepares nurses for leadership positions or as advanced practice nurses in a variety of settings. The PhD in nursing prepares nursing scientists to conduct research aimed at enhancing effectiveness of nursing in specific populations and within various healthcare settings.

How are classes delivered?

Most course work is delivered online. Some on-campus time is required the first week of the first semester.

How long will it take me to earn my PhD?

The PhD program curriculum is designed to be delivered over 7 semesters, with additional time for dissertation, which is variable for each student.

The Bacc-PhD program curriculum is designed to be delivered over 9 semesters, with additional time for dissertation, which is variable for each student.

How much time will I need to spend on the Spokane campus?

Currently, all courses will be delivered via Zoom.

How long do I have to complete the program once I start?

The WSU Graduate School allows 10 years for completion. However, the preliminary examination must be completed by Year 7 in order to have the required maximum of 3 years post-preliminary exam for completion of the study and defense.

Program Contacts